The thump method of refrigeration

Sunday, May 21, 2006

SHE SAID: The smell started out unobtrusive enough.

Just a faint waft that prompted me to sniff the air around the trash can in the kitchen.

A few days later, walking through the front door of our house was like taking a bath in the landfill on Highway 25. Gag.

We took out the trash. Changed the cat litter (three times). Emptied a cooler left over from a recent camping trip. Took out the trash again. Cleaned the garbage disposal. And smelled every inch of our house trying to locate the source of the stench.

Finally, we pinpointed the refrigerator. It took us a while to narrow it down because the fridge didn't smell inside -- which, with my lack of initiative in throwing away leftovers, would have been the more obvious problem -- but on the outside.

Further examination revealed a small tray beneath the refrigerator, which slid out to reveal a small amount of rancid water. Using a highly scientific method of decontamination (namely, a bottle of bleach, a scrubbing brush with a very, very long handle and two fingers clamped over my nostrils) I cleaned out the tray and Bob reinserted it under the fridge. Problem solved. Until the next morning, when our new Eau de Miller was back with a vengeance.

About that same time, we began noticing that our milk wasn't as cold as usual. Then, the food in the freezer was in a half-thawed mushy state. I left Bob in charge of calling in a repair man. And that's how we learned about the thump method of refrigeration.

HE SAID: Millions of columns, essays, sermons and speeches have been written about the things we take for granted. I imagine most of those columns, essays and sermons were filled with examples of how we should appreciate life, family, health and Earth.

But I bet you no one has ever told you that you shouldn't take this for granted: A kitchen that doesn't smell like a dead rat.

The smell seemed to originate from our bathroom hallway, which was strange, because it did not stink inside the bathroom. I thought perhaps some critter had crawled inside the walls and died.

One day, when I was up to my nostrils in frustration, I spent several minutes sniffing around the kitchen, trying to find the origin of the stench.

Then I found it. It was coming from the refrigerator vent, blowing out and following a trail that led into the bathroom hall. Under the fridge is a small tray that collects condensation. I pulled it out, gave it a sniff and almost choked. I hadn't smelled anything so bad since the football locker room in high school.

After tinkering with the fridge, I finally called in an expert named Bud. Bud did the same tinkering I did, and came to the conclusion that a mouse had crawled inside our refrigerator. This, of course, was nonsense because we've never had mice in this house, even before I brought in three cats and my cute and talented wife to reside with me.

But Bud indicated the smell only appeared when the fridge stopped working. And to get it working, all I would need to do is thump the thermostat in the back of the freezer.

Just a little thump to remove the smell. That'll be 65 bucks. Call me if you need anything else.

Well, the thumping was great advice. It has helped, but the problem hasn't been solved. We still have a thermostat that needs replaced. We have a kitchen that still smells from time to time. And 65 fewer dollars.

Sometimes, I think life just stinks.

Other times I wonder just what else I'm taking for granted.

cmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

bmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 122

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